NCQA: Federal Government Approves NCQA as an ONC-Authorized Testing Lab

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is proud to announce NCQA’s eMeasure testing laboratory is now approved by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).  As an ONC-Authorized Testing Lab (ONC-ATL), NCQA can perform health IT tests as part of the ONC Health IT Certification program.

NCQA is the only approved alternative to this government-based electronic quality measure testing procedure. With this approval, health IT and data vendors can use the NCQA generated test decks for two certifications; ONC HIT Certification for use in reporting electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) to CMS for the Quality Payment Program; as well as NCQA eMeasure certification for use in NCQA’s recognition for Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and as a standard supplemental dataset in support of HEDIS reporting. Read More →

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Sarah Dohl
HealthPayer Intelligence: NQF Aims to Improve Medicaid Use of Social Determinants Data

Collaborating with public health and community organizations to foster informed decision-making can help Medicaid entities better address the social determinants of health (SDOHs), says new guidance issued by the National Quality Forum (NQF).

An expert panel assembled by NQF found that Medicaid programs are well positioned to positively impact food insecurity and housing-related SDOH among their beneficiary populations, but only if they work closely with other organizations in their communities. Read More →

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Sarah Dohl
Health Affairs: Dually Enrolled Beneficiaries Have Higher Episode Costs On The Medicare Spending Per Beneficiary Measure

Cost measures are a growing part of Medicare’s value-based payment programs. Medicare Spending per Beneficiary (MSPB) is the cost measure included in Medicare’s Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program. Beneficiaries who are dually enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid are known to have higher spending on care, but it is unknown whether spending on the MSPB measure varies based on dual enrollment and whether this has implications for the performance of safety-net hospitals. Read More →

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Sarah Dohl
Health Affairs: Unpacking the Trump Administration’s Section 1115 Medicaid Work Demonstration Solicitation

On January 11, 2018 the Trump Administration released a long-anticipated solicitation to states  in the form of a State Medicaid Directors Letter. The letter invites proposals to undertake demonstrations to test the effects of threatening to withdraw or reduce Medicaid – or actually doing so -- from people who fail to meet work requirements. Eleven states currently have applications in the pipeline,  and in recent days two more states appear to have at least preliminarily raised their hands as well. Read More →

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Sarah Dohl
Cleveland Clinic: CDC Report Says Many Parents are Using Unsafe Infant Sleep Practices

Sudden Unexplained Infant Death, or ‘SIDS’ is the leading cause of death of babies under the age of one in the United States. Current recommendations call for infants to be placed to sleep on their back at all times to lessen the risk of SIDS. However, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many babies are still placed in unsafe sleep environments. Read More →

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Sarah Dohl
Health Affairs: Medicare Advantage Enrollees More Likely To Enter Lower-Quality Nursing Homes Compared To Fee-For-Service Enrollees

This article evaluates the differences in the quality of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) that Medicare Advantage and FFS beneficiaries entered in the period 2012–14. After we controlled for patients’ clinical, demographic, and residential neighborhood effects, we found that FFS Medicare patients have substantially higher probabilities of entering higher-quality SNFs (those rated four or five stars by Nursing Home Compare) and those with lower readmission rates, compared to MA enrollees. The difference between MA and FFS Medicare SNF selections was less for enrollees in higher-quality MA plans than those in lower-quality plans, but Medicare Advantage still guided patients to lower-quality facilities. Read More →

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Sarah Dohl
Health Leaders Media: Generic Drugs Achieve Record FDA Approvals, Aim to Lower Prices

As the FDA continues to approve generic drugs at a record clip, patients see the potential for reducing costs while nonprofits hope for increased availability of generics during a nationwide shortage.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, released the latest data last week on approvals of generic prescription drugs. Through November, the FDA has granted 929 approvals or tentative approvals for generic drugs, at an average rate of 84.5 per month this year. This past month saw 107 generics earn approval, besting the previous all-time high of 101, a record the FDA had just set one month prior. Read More →

 

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Sarah Dohl
Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc.: Strengthening Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports in an Evolving Policy Environment - A Toolkit for States

This toolkit, developed with support from The SCAN Foundation and the Milbank Memorial Fund, provides a targeted menu of LTSS reform strategies adopted by state innovators that may be replicated by other states. It identifies concrete policy strategies, operational steps, and federal and state authorities that states have used to advance their LTSS reforms. It also highlights opportunities and challenges that states faced in designing and implementing reforms. Read More →

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Sarah Dohl
Health Leaders Media: Using Personal Financial Data to Improve Healthcare

Using such data as a source of social determinants of health information can boost the accuracy of population risk predictions.

It’s no surprise when your mailbox is full of credit card offers or coupons and catalogues from your favorite stores. After all, it’s fairly common knowledge that credit reporting agencies like Experian and Equifax (which recently made headlines for a massive data breach) provide your purchasing data to companies for direct marketing purposes.

But what if healthcare providers could tap into that data too? How might it be added to claims and clinical data to better predict population health risk? Read More →

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Sarah Dohl
Renal and Urology News: New Guidelines Redefine Hypertension

Newly released guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology lower the blood pressure (BP) cutoff for hypertension diagnosis from 140/90 mm Hg to 130/80 mm Hg.

The term prehypertension is no longer recommended. Instead, stage 1 hypertension will refer to levels of 130 to 139 mm Hg systolic or 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic pressure; 120 to 129 mm Hg systolic and diastolic less than 80 is considered “elevated.” By lowering the cutoff, nearly half of American adults, particularly the younger individuals, will now be considered hypertensive. Read More →

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Sarah Dohl
Journal of the American Pharmacists Association: Community pharmacists enhance care in patient-centered medical home

Community pharmacists who work directly with patients in a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) can help improve rates of influenza vaccination and improve outcomes in diabetes and hypertension management, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. In the study, researchers describe a collaboration between Kroger Pharmacy and a medical practice that consisted of seven physicians, a registered dietician, and a medical home coordinator.

Between January 2013 and January 2014, a community pharmacist worked in the medical practice for 8 hours per week, divided into two 4-hour shifts. While in the office, the pharmacist provided one-on-one appointments with patients, built relationships with office staff, and answered patient and prescriber questions. Appointments with patients included medication therapy management, diabetes education, and weight loss education, as needed. The pharmacist also offered follow-up services in the office or the pharmacy as patients wished. Kroger Pharmacy received a fixed fee per patient per month for high-risk patients. Read More →

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Sarah Dohl
AAP News: New CPT codes for behavioral health services take effect Jan. 1

Psychiatric collaborative care management (PCCM) as described by Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) 2018 reflects behavioral health services delivered via a specific evidence-based model. Care is managed by a behavioral health care manager (BHCM), who has master’s/doctoral-level education or specialized training in behavioral health, under direction of a treating physician or qualified health care professional (QHP) in consultation with a medical professional trained in psychiatry or behavioral health and qualified to prescribe the full range of medications. Read More →

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Sarah Dohl